Homeless Count; Program Planned
The Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count took place over three days this week in areas throughout Los Angeles County. The count is needed in order to receive Federal money through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
In Pacific Palisades, volunteers went out from 8 p.m. to midnight on Wednesday. This is the fifth year that the homeless have been counted in this community.
Resident Kim Clary wrote Circling the News the day before the count that the Palisades was short of volunteers and that this community might not be able to count the tracts assigned. Fortunately, about 10 people showed up at the last minute on Wednesday, to ensure there were enough people on each team.
Additionally, Clary’ husband, David Morena, reworked the 13 assigned areas and regrouped them into 10. That meant fewer teams, but more area for individual teams to cover.
Volunteers met in the Corpus Christi Parish Hall, and thanks to Carol Sanborn there were all sorts of snacks, including carrot soup and homemade oatmeal and chocolate-chip cookies.
There was a brief training session to explain how counting should be done. For example, if one saw a makeshift shelter, but not a person, the volunteer could only mark that a shelter was found. Volunteers were told not to open flaps of tents and peer inside—a person could not be counted unless they actually stepped outside—but a tent could be counted.
In 2015 and 2016, about 200 homeless were counted each year in Pacific Palisades. In 2017 and 2018, about 100 were counted each year during the annual event.
Said Doug McCormick, president of the Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness (PPTFH): “We have redefined community. They [homeless] are part of us.”
The Task Force was formed in 2016 and through November 2018, about 100 homeless individuals have been taken off the streets and relocated into housing, which helps account for the decrease in homeless found here the past two years.
When PPTFH was founded, money was raised to hire two social workers, who spend five days a week in the field working with individuals to help them obtain medical help, assistance and the necessary documents in order to find housing. Many transients had no identification, including a driver’s license or passport, which meant they could not qualify for assistance.
New people living on the street in Pacific Palisades are contacted almost immediately by either the social workers or by LAPD officers. The officers explain that assistance is available and if it is refused, those people are not allowed to camp in the hillsides, most of which are fire-prone zones. (Visit: pptfh.org)
According to Sharon Kilbride, who leads PPTFH Police Enforcement Coordination, “We work directly with officers and this past year we engaged with 801 new individuals.”
This writer was assigned to a team that visited Sunset from Palisades Drive to Gladstone’s and west to Coastline Drive. Walking the shoreline, only about four individuals were seen.
Here’s a warning to people who drive that road at night: one of the homeless individuals, who was in a wheelchair, all of a sudden blew by on Pacific Coast Highway, dodging around cars parked along the road and into traffic lanes. Police have been alerted.
There were a few cars parked on that section of the road, but none of the occupants were considered homeless; instead, they were watching movies, smoking and engaging in other activities.
PPTFH Meeting this Monday
Since the formation of the Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness, the group holds bimonthly forums to explain to the community what they are doing, to provide updates and to solicit ideas. The next meeting will be held from 7-8:30 p.m. on Monday, January 28, at the Palisades Library community room, 861 Alma Real Dr.
Dr. Scott Sale, co-founder and executive director of Safe Parking L.A., will discuss how his group is working to provide a safe place to park for the homeless living in their cars. He spoke to the Palisades Community Council in March.
At that meeting, Sale said that faith-based organizations’ parking lots are one solution. He said the hours are dependent on the lot owner and a porta potty is brought to the location and a guard/security are provided.
Sale said that ideally a parking lot should hold a minimum of five cars overnight and each parking lot owner gets $500 a month for “soft” costs such as water and electricity.
Potential vehicle dwellers must fill out an application and sign a waiver that includes the rules about noise and camping. Single men are screened in the National Sex Offender database.